• Switzerland edition
 
VIPs line up in jets and limousines for Art Basel
Visitors view artwork by Adriana Vareniao at Art Basel. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

VIPs line up in jets and limousines for Art Basel

Published: 13 Jun 2013 11:55 GMT+02:00
Updated: 13 Jun 2013 11:55 GMT+02:00

The 44th edition of the show opened to the public on Thursday, but the doors were nudged open earlier on Tuesday for special VIPs wanting an advance peek at the wide range of artwork displayed across a whopping 31,000 square metres (334,000 square feet) of exhibition space.
   
On Wednesday, an estimated 110 private jets landed and took off from the Basel-Mulhouse airport, after 83 flew through there on Tuesday despite a strike that reduced the airport's capacity and forced some wealthy patrons of the arts to change their travel plans.
   
It was important to be among the first to squeeze through the doors, Annka 
Kultys, a Swiss art collector based in London, told AFP.
 
"The rule in Basel is that you cannot put (artwork) on hold before the art 
fair, so we need to be here the first day, and just run to the booths that we are interested in," she said.
 
"I know exactly where I want to go when I come here, which gallery I want 
to see, which artist," she added.
   
Some 65,000 visitors are expected to come to Art Basel this year to see exhibits by a lucky 304 galleries, picked from more than 1,000 that vied for a spot at the lucrative fair.

"There's been a buzz immediately," Tim Marlow, director of exhibitions at the London-based White Cube Gallery told AFP, just a few hours after the buying frenzy began.
   
"We've sold two Sergei Jensen paintings, a Tracey Emin, we sold this Mark 
Bradford work for $725,000," he said, pointing to the large abstract canvas behind him.
   
"And there is serious interest in the Damien Hirst pill cabinet, at four 
million pounds," he added with a broad smile, nodding to a large mirror wall lined with tightly spaced, narrow metal shelves covered with pills in different colours and shapes.
   
Art Basel's impact on a gallery's bottom line does not stop with what is 
sold at the fair, he said.
   
"It's about connections made and clients made, and museums.

"A lot of 
museums come . . . and then conversations are hatched, work is bought . . . exhibitions are planned."
 
The art world appears to have bucked the global economic crisis, with 
income from global auction sales more than doubling since it hit bottom in 2009, passing eight billion euros last year, according to French specialised website Artprice.com.
   
"I think the art market is actually in a very strong position," Art Basel 
director Marc Spiegler told AFP.
   
Case in point: a few hours after the opening 
Tuesday he said he was noticing "a lot of frustration among collectors because the things that they want to buy are already sold."

 'From five percent of world's rich to 40 percent' 

Amid all the stock market turmoil in recent years, the world's wealthy are increasingly turning to art as a good and safe investment, experts say.
 
"I reckon that in the next 10 years we'll see the market going from about 
five percent of the world's rich having art to around 40 percent," said Philip Hoffman, the head of the Fine Art Fund Group, which advises wealthy clients on what pieces to add to their collections.
   
But Art Basel is not only about investment; it is also about the enjoyment 
of seeing a wide range of work by the great artists of the 20th century, such as Picasso, Kandinsky and Warhol, mixed in with the cutting edge of today, Spiegler said.
 
For those more interested in looking than buying, a whole hall has been 
reserved for the "Unlimited" collection of large and sometimes astonishing works that are not for sale at the fair.
   
Unlike in the crowded section next door, there is plenty of space to stroll 
through the 11,500-square-metre exhibit, admiring works by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, British sculptor Antony Gormley, or Japanese Chiharu Shiota, who has covered chairs and a grand piano in a massive web of black string.
   
There are also less well-known artists on display, like Chinese He An.

   
"This is my first time here," he says through a translator, as he shields 
his eyes to gaze through his piece, "Hubble", a massive metal tube made from billboards with the powerful light usually used in advertising shooting out at the observer "as if from a cannon."
   
Swiss art collector Marco Stoffel, who has been coming to Art Basel for the 
past 20 years, says he likes starting in the Unlimited section before heading to the buying frenzy next door.
   
"I start here, where I can remain calm, and then, afterwards, it's off to 
the circus," he told AFP.

Nina Larson/AFP (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Bite sends Ebola virus doctor to Geneva
Geneva's university hospital (HUG). Photo: Julien Gregario

Bite sends Ebola virus doctor to Geneva

A doctor bitten by a child infected with the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone on Monday became the first person coming from an area hit by the deadly epidemic to arrive in Switzerland. READ  

Murder probed after Lake Lucerne body found
View of Stanstadd with Lake Lucerne in the background. Photo: Tilman-AB/Wikimedia Commons

Murder probed after Lake Lucerne body found

Police in the canton of Nidwalden are seeking witnesses after the suspected murder of a 36-year-old woman whose body was found in Lake Lucerne. READ  

Red Cross set to resume Sudanese aid work
Photo: Julius Kusuma

Red Cross set to resume Sudanese aid work

The Geneva-based Red Cross said on Monday that Sudan had ended a ban on its aid operations, imposed by the government in February. READ  

French court upholds €1.1-billion UBS bail
Photo: Martin Abbegglen

French court upholds €1.1-billion UBS bail

A French court Monday upheld a 1.1-billion-euro bail payment owed by Swiss bank UBS for allegedly helping rich French clients to hide money in Switzerland. READ  

UK motorcyclist dies in mountain pass crash
Photo: Graubünden cantonal police

UK motorcyclist dies in mountain pass crash

Officers discovered the body of a 47-year-old British motorcyclist in a ravine in the canton of Graubünden after he was earlier reported missing, cantonal police said on Monday. READ  

Geneva MP seeks ban on charging for tap water
Photo: SIG

Geneva MP seeks ban on charging for tap water

A Geneva politician is pushing for a law to ban restaurants from charging for tap water — a practice currently followed by certain establishments. READ  

Valais abbey celebrates 1,500 years of history
Aerial view of Saint Maurice's abbey. Photo: Thomas Jantscher/Abaaye de Saint-Maurice

Valais abbey celebrates 1,500 years of history

Switzerland’s abbey of Saint Maurice, the oldest Christian monastery still in operation in the western world, kicked off a year of celebrations on Sunday to mark its 1,500th anniversary. READ  

Geneva physicists set 'photon transport' record
Crystals containing photonic data after teleporting. Photo: GAP/University of Geneva

Geneva physicists set 'photon transport' record

Physicists in Switzerland say they have succeeded in teleporting the quantum state of a photon to a crystal, in which information transited from light to matter, over a record distance of 25 kilometres. READ  

Chilean base jumper dies in Bernese Oberland
View of the Glecksteinhütte. Photo: Patrick Liermann

Chilean base jumper dies in Bernese Oberland

A 35-year-old Chilean man died following a base jumping accident in the Bernese Oberland, police said on Sunday. READ  

Swiss hail ‘success in failure’ of Scots no vote
No supporters celebrate in Scotland. Photo: Leon Neal/AFP

Swiss hail ‘success in failure’ of Scots no vote

Commentators in Swiss media have called the Scottish no vote “a success in failure” after 55 percent of Scots voted against independence in Thursday’s historic referendum. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Education
ETH Zurich remains top university in Europe: QS world rankings
National
Switzerland's housing vacancy rate jumps: new federal figures
National
Swiss football club fires team masseuse over explicit sex video
National
Geneva police arrest easyJet passenger over hand luggage row
Business & Money
Latest forecasts for Swiss economic growth turn less bullish
Sport
Formula One legend Schumacher to continue treatment at Swiss home
National
Former federal planning official calls for nine Swiss cantons
Features
The Local gets the lowdown on mushroom picking in Switzerland
National
Virgin boss Richard Branson's son rescued from peak of Matterhorn
National
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter's commute turns Twitter sensation
Features
High-tech cameras give dizzy view of Eiger's north face (VIDEO)
Politics
Baden municipal council strips 'nude selfies mayor' of duties
Business & Money
Switzerland stays atop competitiveness table for sixth year
National
Federal parliament secretary agrees to step down over nude selfies
Sponsored Article
Car insurance made easy online with St Bernard
National
Swiss residents pick Swedes as ideal European soul mates: survey
National
Zurich officials call project to move prostitutes to 'sex boxes' a success
National
Swiss gays recognized as parents of child born to surrogate mother
Health
Increase in mountain bike accidents keeps Swiss hospitals busy
National
Swiss policeman belatedly honoured for saving Jews from Holocaust
National
'Suicide tourists' to Switzerland double in three years: study
National
Swiss Post SMS scheme gets stamp of approval after pilot project
Business & Money
American tax evasion crackdown hits Swiss private banks' bottom line
Politics
Woman accuses Swiss politician in nude selfies scandal of lying
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,097
jobs available